Kantian Theory





Kantian Theory

Kant theory is a theory by Immanuel Kant that tries to explain the moral behavior of people. According to this theory an action can either be said to be right or wrong thus moral or immoral. This is different as compared to the utilitarian theory that tries to explain the morality of an action by judging the effect the action will have. According to Utilitarian, an action is considered to be good or bad depending on its final consequences. According to Immanuel Kant his principle on morality was anchored by a standard of rationality that he referred to as the Categorical Imperative. According to Kant’s Categorical Imperative was an unconditional, rationally essential as well as san objective principle which human’s had to adhere to despite the natural inclination or rather desires that one may experience.

Kantanian theory backed other philosophers including Aquinas, Locke and Hobbes in trying to explain how one needs to act in a society as they all argued that a person’s moral obligation had only to base on the standards. Kant agreed with both these ideas and stated that analyses of practical reason disclose the condition that rational agents must obey all principles or laws that have been laid down. Kant’s position was grounded on his doctrine that an individual’s rational will must be considered as free or autonomous from the viewpoint of being a person who would be law abiding. Thus, the main principle of morality when it comes to categorical imperative is law of autonomous will (Rawls, pg. 283-298). Kantanian philosophy, therefore, is based on self-governing reason in all human beings that makes every person of equal worthiness as well as serving equal respect. Emmanuel Kant theory seems more appealing and reasonable as compared to utilitarian theory because according to Kant, as humans we are always in a position to be able to control our will as well as our motives. Our motives behind doing something will determine if something is either right or wrong.

In order to understand Kant’s theory, it is important to look at how the categorical imperative works. The categorical imperative has three ways of how one can be able to formulate if something is right or not. The first is the Formula of Universal Law. According to Kant there was nothing better than good will in itself. He described will as the ability of Humans to act in accordance to the rules and laws that have been set up irrespective of the consequences that the act is going to have in our lives (Wood, 27-47). According to Kant, one could not make exceptions for themselves for example if you expect people to show you respect then you should also show respect to the other people.

The second principle is the moral worth of a person; a person moral actions are able to determine if he is a good person or not. According to Kant’s theory, it is important for one to set up absolute as well as valid moral rules which are based on reasoning only and not by referencing to empirical data supernatural beings. In setting up the moral rules we use the same logical reasoning that stipulates particular irrefutable in logics and Math such as ‘all triangles are three-sided’ and ‘no circle is a square’ and 1+1=2. Kant proposed that absolute moral truths must first be logically consistent and not self-contradictory. Second, all moral truths must be universal, that is, all absolute truths must be applied to everything without exceptions. The statement, ‘All triangles are three-sided’ illustrates this condition (Timmons, pg. 96).

A good example is a scenario where investigating officers have information about a ticking time bomb and are not willing to divulge any useful information that may help the investigators to stop the attack. A ticking time bomb is a case that has always been used to make us question our moral priorities. In such a case evacuation is not always an option but disarming the bomb is always the law enforcers top priority. If a suspect is apprehended and it is evident that he can divulge information on where the bombs are located, then the dilemma kicks in. the police have to carefully choose to torture the suspect for information or decided not to harm him at the expense of letting innocent civilians too. In our scenario, the chief thinks that torture will help him tell the law enforcer where the bomb is. If this information is not obtained, then the bomb could go of killing a lot of people. To the police chief, keeping the city town is his priority. Being in a situation where bombs are about to blow up and the location is not known then desperate measures have to be taken. In this case the measures would include things such as relocation of people on suspected terror spots or torture the suspect to divulge the information (Buha, pg. 304-327).

Using Kantanian theory, this action can be considered to be immoral. This is because according to moral principles, torturing a person is immoral. Torture is considered illegal in most part of the world. This has been attributed to the fact that torture leads to misleading information. An individual being tortured may give out the wrong information to stop the torture. In interrogation involving terrorist suspects, torture may be a slippery slope. This is because the suspect may give misleading information about an attack to derail the police from actually stopping it as most are ready to die for what they stand for. Using the deontology theory, the police chief went against the laws that have been set. Deciding to torture the suspect is a wrong thing to do as there have laws laid out to protect the suspects. Through torture a couple of things may occur. The suspect may die due to too much pain, the suspect too may provide misleading information to the chief police or may withstand the pain and not talk at all. By considering these three things then the chief police are not right by authorizing torture on the suspect. Laws are also set in place to ensure law and order and police officers cannot go breaking these laws as this is what may actually result in anarchy in a society.

However, a person in support of the utilitarian theory will think otherwise. Using the utilitarianism theory then the police chief did the right thing by obtaining information on the attack. The information obtained through the interrogation will help prevent the impending attack. This means that the situation or the information will bring happiness and be of greater good to many people this makes it morally good. If the police decide not to torture the suspect to get the necessary information, then the bombs might have gone off resulting in the death of several innocent live. The chief not taking a step to get information that would prevent the attack may be considered a bad thing. If trough the torture police were not able to get the right information, the police chief still did the right thing. This was on the basis that as he was making the decision, he was still looking at a bigger picture where people would have died if the bomb eventually went off. There are instances where torture ids often the only resort in getting meaningful information that may save lives (Morris, pg. 42).

Kant’s theory has been criticized for allowing deeds that render the world a less pleasant place. Kant’s philosophy does not consider the consequences of an action but rather the action itself. However, in the world we are living in, good deeds do not always lead to positive outcomes, and neither do bad acts bring about adverse consequences. Therefore, applying non-consequentialist in everything does not make the world a better place. This theory is also abstract in that; it does not explain what particular actions are right and in what situations, rendering it less applicable to day to day life. Some critics claim that the theory is unrealistic since human beings rarely act purely out of a sense of duty (George, pg. 35-86). In many instances, human beings perform certain deeds expecting of something in return. Moreover, Kant’s theory is difficult to actualize since it has no place for personal relations and love but instead states that one should instead act out of a cold feeling-duty. Many critics have refuted this reasoning since human beings are prone to feelings of love and attachment. Therefore, despite the Kantian theory of duty and universal morality being stable, it does not wholly apply to today’s modern world.

In conclusion, in the modern day, Kant’s does not apply to most situations due to its absolutist nature. It sets absolutist rules and has no method of applying to the exceptions. For instance, the theory does not vary the rightness or wrongness of an act despite the context. Lying is considered universally wrong, and therefore, the Kantian approach holds lying as immoral. The theory does not consider outcomes but means. For example, from our example, it would immoral to water board a criminal for example a terrorist to try and reveal where a bomb has been hidden. However, from the Utilitarian theory, waterboarding is allowed gas long the lives of people are saved thus bringing joy to many people. I personally believe murder, stealing, invasion of privacy and lying can be allowed in specific instances.

Works Cited

Buha, Mark J. “Rule Ulitarian and Deontlogist Perspectives on Comparison of Torture Killing.” Washington University Jurisprudence Journal (2010): 304-327.

George, Robert P. “Recent Criticism of Natural Law Theory.” Aquinas and Modern Law. Routledge, 2017. 35-86.

Morris, Jeremy. “The Justification of Torture-Horror.” HoRrOR (2010): 42.

Rawls, John. “The independence of moral theory.” The American Philosophical Association Centennial Series (2013): 283-298.

Timmons, Mark. Moral theory: An introduction. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.

Wood, Allen. “The final form of Kant’s practical philosophy.” Immanuel Kant. Routledge, 2017. 27-47.